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Elderly Mom in ALF In Love With Young Aide
Jan L . Warner & Jan Collins

Question: My mother has lived in an upscale assisted living facility since her second husband died when she was 75. Now 88, she has dementia and requires assistance with her medications, etc, but is otherwise in good health. She is also relatively wealthy and has named me -- her older daughter -- as agent under her power of attorney. I pay all of her monthly bills and take care of her needs. Of late, she has become infatuated with a young (30 years of age), nice-looking man who is an aide at the facility. It seems that he is often in her room and, when I call, she tells me she canít talk to me because "there is a handsome man in my room. Every woman needs a man in her life."

I donít think he is acting in any way other than professionally, but Iím concerned that he might try to convince her to change her will or do something foolish if he is, in fact, a bad guy. My sister tells me that I am all wet, that there is no problem, and that the guy just makes Mom giggly and giddy. But IĎm worried because this ďrelationshipĒ has been going on for several months. I donít want to take away Momís companionship or fun, but I am wondering if I should seek a guardianship or let the administration know about my worries and ask that they monitor the relationship.

Answer: While the "older womanĖyounger man" phenomenon smacks us in the face every day in the print and broadcast media, the women whom the media choose to cover are 40-year-olds in bikinis with their young hunks, not 80-year-olds in nursing facilities with their young nursing aides. But, as you are now aware, the fact that itís not covered in the news does not mean it isnít happening.

Other than her dementia, your mother is physically healthy and, having outlived two husbands, obviously has an eye for men and likes to socialize. From her perspective, she is still attractive, is younger than her biological age, is enjoying the attention, and feels good about herself despite the fact that she lives in a facility.

Your motherís infatuation with a man 58 years her junior raises many serious questions. If she were living at home, that would be difficult enough; however, as a member of a protected class of citizens who lives in facility licensed by the state to help vulnerable adults, we believe that the problem is magnified and should be addressed. So long as your mother has the mental capacity, she can change her will, revoke her power of attorney and choose another person to handle her finances. She could even get married.

What to do? Based on your description of your motherís state of health, a guardianship is not an option. And if you try and are not successful, we think you can kiss your relationship with your mother goodbye. Likewise, if you are perceived to be going behind her back to the facility -- or to be getting her friend in trouble -- you may meet a similar fate.

It appears to us that your mother may have too much time on her hands. You might think about introducing a geriatric care manager click here( into the situation for the purpose of not only advice, but also giving your mother more to do than sit in her room all day. You might also consider contacting HomeInstead click here ( for the purpose of securing a male companion who will take your mother out of the facility, to the zoo, to plays, and to social events.

Taking the NextStep: The introduction of caring caregivers and companions who will provide socialization in the community as opposed to infatuation within the facility can do nothing but help. But make sure you engage professionals to assist you. Going this one alone could be disastrous.

Need more advice or help with this topic? Click here to get information about taking the "Next Step".

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